You may not think of Paris, or any European city for that matter, as a budget-friendly destination. True, air fare may still be expensive, but once in the city, there are tons of activities that are not only fun but also completely free.
Shakespeare & Company Bookstore
A personal favorite of mine, the original Shakespeare and Company was opened on the Left Bank in 1919 and was a favorite of famous “Lost Generation” writers like Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, and James Joyce. Shut down due to the German occupation in 1940, the current incarnation is at 37 rue de la Bûcherie in the 5th arrondissement. They’re open every day from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., except on Saturdays and Sundays when they open at 11 a.m. Stop by to soak in the literary influence of the greats!
Cathédrale Notre Dame
Quasimodo couldn’t have found a more beautiful place to live. Fans of Gothic architecture will thrill at this ancient cathedral. Built in 1345, Notre Dame is open freely to the public every day from 7:45 a.m. to 6:45 pm. (opens at 6:15 on Saturdays and Sundays) and is located on Ile de la Cité. You can visit to look around or to attend a mass or service. Either way, the experience is breathtaking.
At 16 Rue du Repos, you can visit some of the world’s most famous people. In their graves, that is. Père-Lachaise is Paris’ largest – and most famous – cemetery. Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde and Marcel Proust all rest here, along with over one million others interred in the grounds. The cemetery is open and free to the public Monday through Friday, between the hours of 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. The grounds are vast and sprawling, I recommend having a plan before you go. You can also take a virtual tour before your visit.
Luckily for you, this City of Lights must-see is completely free to visit. You can purchase tickets to go up into the tower, but simply visiting and seeing it is free. It’s beautiful any time of day, but I personally find it the most gorgeous at night when it’s lit up. Its address is the Champs de Mars, 5 Avenue Anatole. It’s one of the most famous landmarks in the world, so expect a crowd!
Museé d’Art Moderne
If you check out the tower, hop across the Seine to visit this museum’s free permanent collection that features the art of such greats as Picasso and Matisse. The exhibit is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The permanent collection is free of charge, but you can buy tickets to see the other temporary exhibits. Bonus: You can store your coat or bulky bags in the free cloakroom!